Biblical Israel Tour Experiences for the 11 Day Biblical Israel Tour (with option to Jordan & southern Israel)
March 17-27, 2019 (with option to Jordan & southern Israel – March 27-30)
*NOTE: The tour is now updated through Saturday, March 30 – Day 14. This is the last of the updates since the trip is now complete.
TOUR MEMBER PHOTOS
DAYS 1 & 2 – SUNDAY-MONDAY, MARCH 17-18: DEPART U.S.A./ARRIVAL IN ISRAEL
Today our departure date finally arrived for our flight to Israel, the land of the Bible! God brought together a total of 85 for this journey of a lifetime. Meeting at various airports and taking different flights to Israel, God provided safety for all of us to Tel Aviv.
Tel Aviv – Netanya
We landed this afternoon (with a few still coming later this evening) at the Ben Gurion Airport (named after David Ben Gurion, the first Prime Minister of Israel in 1948). After proceeding through the usual passport procedures and meeting each other, we loaded onto the bus and drove towards and eventually through Tel Aviv en route to our hotel in Netanya. This hotel is located right on the Mediterranean Sea.
Following a wonderful buffet dinner, we gathered for a brief orientation meeting. After the meeting, some took a walk down on the beach while others retired for the evening. We are thrilled to be here in Israel, the land of the Bible!
DAY 3 – TUESDAY, MARCH 19: CAESAREA, CARMEL, MEGIDDO, PRECIPICE OF NAZARETH, TIBERIAS
Today was our first full day in Israel. The weather was perfect, with full sun and highs in the 70s. Despite the jet lag and/or limited sleep for some last night, it was a fantastic day!
After a full breakfast at the hotel, we checked out and loaded the bus for a short drive to Caesarea Maritima. This was built in the Sharon Plain along the Mediterranean coastline by Herod the Great in 22 BC. Sitting in the theater, we read about Peter being here (Acts 10), as well as Herod Agrippa (Acts 22), Philip (Acts 21) and Paul (Acts 9, 21, 26). Both Peter and Paul were bold to proclaim Christ here. Walking to the other side of the city, we also saw the ancient palace, the fresh-fresh-water swimming pool, the hippodrome, many mosaics, statutes, and the area of the harbor. Before leaving the site we saw the aqueduct that brought fresh water into the city from the Carmel Range.
Ascending to the top of the Carmel Range, we had our first view of the Jezreel Valley below. Inside the Carmelite chapel we read from Amos 1, Isaiah 35, 2 Kings 4, Song of Songs 7, and the primary story from 1 Kings 18. This last passage places Elijah the prophet here, boldly challenging the prophet of Baal. The view from the top of the roof was very good, allowing us to see Mt. Gilboa (1 Samuel 31), the Hill of Moreh (Judges 6-7), and Mt. Tabor Judges 4-5). We ate lunch (falafel!) At a nearby place owned by a Druze family.
Driving down along the edge of the Jezreel Valley we arrived at Megiddo. This ancient city is a premier archaeological site that has about 25 layers of occupation spanning about 2,500 years! After seeing a model of the site, we climbed the tel (ancient mound). We saw three ancient gates, the stables of Solomon, remnants of palaces, a Canaanite altar, and an Israelite grain silo. We recalled what Revelation 16 says about Armageddon and rejoiced that how ever the end times will unfold, God will hav the final word! We exited the site by walking down into the impressive water system.
Precipice of Nazareth
We ended the day we our third view of the Jezreel Valley from the Precipice of Nazareth. Once again, Mt. Tabor, the Hill of Moreh, Mt. Gilboa, and The Carmel Range could all be seen from here. This are served as the backyard of Jesus. We read from Luke 4 and John 1 as we heeded the invitation of Philip to “come and see” Jesus anew in the context of the culture and region.
From here we drove to our kibbutz-hotel located along the NW corner of the Sea of Galilee. After dinner, many of us enjoyed a brief time down on the lakeshore. We are looking forward a good night sleep!
DAY 4 – WEDNESDAY, MARCH 20: HIPPOS/SUSSITA, QATZRIN, SYRIAN BORDER, CAESAREA PHILIPPI, DAN
Today we traveled to the Golan Heights. The weather was ideal once again, with full sun and highs in the 70s. The sunrise was spectacular as well.
After breakfast, we drove around the north end of the Sea of Galilee until we arrived on the east side (the other side, Mark 4). Towards the southeast corner of the lake is an off-the-beaten-track site called Hippos/Sussita. In the days of Jesus, this was one of the Decapolis cities (Mt. 4:24-25; Mark 5:20, 7:31). This site is full of ancient Roman ruins, including a number of Late Roman (Byzantine) churches. By the odion (small theater) we enjoyed a panoramic view of the Sea of Galilee. We read from Mathew 15 (Feeding of the 4,000), Mark 5 (the demoniac) and John 6 (Feeding of the 5,000). It was a wonderful introduction into the life and ministry of Jesus! The wild flowers (yellow, purples, reds) added so much unbelievable color! It was beautiful!
Ascending to the plateau of the Golan Heights, we arrived at Katzrin/Qatzrin. This was a Jewish Talmudic village (3rd -7th century AD). Here we sat in a reconstructed stone house where we read from Mark 2 (a story that took place in Capernaum actually). But here we could imagine it happening in a house like this. We celebrated Jesus’ compassion and His authority (s’mekah) to heal and forgive! We also walked through the ancient synagogue here.
Driving north, our next stop was the Syrian border. Both Shlomo and Ori shared a little about the modern situation with Syria. The 1967 and 1973 wars were fought here. Looking across the border we could see Kuneitra as well as other smaller towns. Also, Mt. Hermon stood majestically to the north, covered still with the winter snows. Syria has the highest peak of this mountain (9,200 feet), while Israel has the second highest peak (7,300 feet). Part of the mountain is also in Lebanon. Psalm 42, 89, and 133 all reference Mt. Hermon.
Descending down off the Golan Heights our next stop was to Caesarea Philippi. Here, Rev. Scott shared from Matthew 16 and about the most important question Jesus shared with His followers, “Who do you say I am?” It was in the region of this very pagan city that Peter responded, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God!” Walking up to the grotto (sacred place), we saw where the temples of Augustus and Zeus were located, as well the niches for Pan, the Roman god of shepherding. The pagan god Nemisis was also honored here. Also, there was a lot of water flowing here from the Banias spring and from recent snow-melt! In addition, the figs on the trees were just appearing too!
Our last stop of the day was to the nature preserve and archaeological site of Tel Dan. We first walked along the primary tributary of the Jordan here. Before reaching the archaeological site, we stopped to listen to Shlomo play his recorder. We also read (and sang) Psalm 42. While sitting on the steps of the high place, we read from Judges 18 and 1 Kings 12 about the patterns of disobedience that was put on display here. Both the Danites and later Jeroboam practiced false worship here. We were invited to be a living sacrifice unto God (Romans 12). Before leaving the site, we sat and looked across the border with Lebanon while Shlomo and Ori shared about the present situation with these neighbors to the north. We also saw Abraham’s Gate (a Middle Canaanite mud-brick gate) and the Israelite wall and double gate complex. Among these ruins they found the famous Dan Inscription (found in 1993) that mentions in Aramaic the “house of David.” It dates to the 9th century BC.
The drive back to the hotel (past Hazor, Joshua 11) took about 50 minutes. Upon returning, we enjoyed dinner and a free evening.
DAY 5 – THURSDAY, MARCH 21: ARBEL, MAGDALA, YARDENIT, CHORAZIN, CAPERNAUM, SEA OF GALILEE BOAT RIDE, MT. OF BEATITUDES
Today was spent entirely in the Sea of Galilee area. The temps were actually a bit warmer, with highs around 80, with full sun once again! It was another incredible day with a remarkable group of believers! It was a day of walking in the footsteps of Jesus!
Taking off at 7:20 this morning (reading Matthew 13 as we went) our first stop was to the trailhead of Mt. Arbel. About 25 in the group hiked up this 800+ foot cliff while others bussed to the other side and walked up to the top from there. The view of the NW corner of the Sea of Galilee from there was breath-taking. With the good visibility, we could even see the snow-capped Mt. Hermon 35 miles to the north. Perhaps this cliff was the iMt. Of Transfiguration (Mt. 17)? Or perhaps Jesus met His disciples here (Mt. 28:16)?
Driving to the southern end of the lake, we enjoyed a visit to Yardenit. Here in the waters of the Jordan River, over 25 renewed their commitment to be followers of Jesus. It was a special time. While the water was a bit chilly, our hearts were warmed.
Driving back north along the western coastline of the lake (and through Tiberias), Magdala was our next stop. On the way we saw a family celebrating Purim. They were dressed in fun costumes! Here we saw a modest 1st century synagogue. Although this Jewish city is only mentioned once in the Gospels (Mt. 15), no doubt Jesus taught from this synagogue! This was where a certain Mary Magdalene was from!
Following a wonderful fish lunch (some had chicken and lamb kabab), we drove to Capernaum. Sitting in the 5th century synagogue (the 1st century one is no doubt below this one), we recalled all the stories involving Jesus that happened here (Mark, 1,2, 3, 9; Luke 7, 8; John 6). This city served as Jesus’ home-base for His Galilean ministry! It was also along this shoreline where Jesus called His first disciples (Mt. 4).
Up off the coastline a few miles is Chorazin. Like Bethsaida and Capernaum, this city was condemned by Jesus (Mt. 11). We walked to the 3rd century synagogue here and read from Matthew 23. This passage refers to the Moses’ seat. We also saw the newly-discovered wine press just reported about in the news a few days ago!
Mt. of Beatitudes
Next (and close by) was the Mt. of Beatitudes. Although this is only a traditional site, this very well could have been the location of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. We listened to Matthew 5 in Hebrew and in English. The kingdom message was Jesus’ central message of His ministry. He taught everywhere about the reign and rule of God in the lives of those who were followers.
Ancient Boat/Boat Ride
Our last stop of the day was to see the ancient boat. It dates to the 1st century. It was found in 1986 in the muddy coastline at Nof Ginnosar. From here we walked to our boat for a 45 minute time of worship and reflection. We listened to Mark 4 and Matthew 14, the two storm narratives. Jesus calmed the waters in both stories.
Walking back to our hotel, we enjoyed dinner and an optional activity of painting rocks that many picked up from the shoreline of Capernaum.
DAY 6 – FRIDAY, MARCH 22: KINNERET CEMETERY, BETH SHEAN, SHILOH, JERICHO, JUDEAN DESERT, JERICHO
Today we left the Sea of Galilee area and drove to the southern end of the Dead Sea. In between we visited a few sites that once again connected us directly with the Bible. The weather was again warm, with highs in the 70s again.
Our first stop was not on the itinerary but was a special one. We stopped at the Kinneret Cemetery, a place where some of the earliest Jewish pioneers are buried. One particular grave is a single lady from the Ukraine who died in 1931. Here name was Rachel. Today she is known for the poems she wrote. Her picture is even now displayed on the new Israeli 20 shekel bill!
Leaving the Sea of Galilee area and driving about 20 miles south in the Jordan Valley, our next stop was Beth Shean. This was a huge Roman city. Prior to this in the days of the Old Testament, the city was Canaanite (even with Egyptian influence). It was on the walls of this OT city where the bodies of Saul and his sons were hung (1 Samuel 31). In the Roman part of the city we saw many things, including the bathhouse, colonnaded streets, the agora (forum), public latrenes, and the theater. Some in the group climbed up to the top of the OT tel for a great view of the city below.
From here we uniquely drove through the Samaritan Hill Country. We passed near Shechem, Mt. Gerazim, and Mt. Ebal (Gen. 34, Joshua 24). This is also the location for Sychar (John 4). We also saw a number of shepherds in this region. The wild flowers were again in full bloom too. Arriving at Shiloh, we walked up the tel and saw a brief movie about the history of the site. We read from 1 Samuel 2 (the call of Samuel) and Jeremiah 13. Scott also showed us some of the excavation of the site.
Contining south from Shiloh we enjoyed a unique road leading us through a part of the Judean Desert called Parath. Coming from Jerusalem, Jeremiah hid a linen belt in this part of the desert (Jer. 13). The uniqueness of this arad region is quite remarkable.
Driving further east we arrived at Jericho. Located in the Jordan Valley, this Canaanite city was the first one conquered by Joshua (Josh. 6). Climbing the site, we first looked east across the Jordan River. We recalled the stories of Moses (Mt. Nebo, Dt. 31-34), the crossing of the river (Josh. 3-4), Elijah’s fiery chariot and Elisha’s purification of the spring of Jericho (2 Kings 2), and Jesus’ baptism (John 1). New Testament Jericho was located just south about 1.5 miles. Bartimeus and Zacheaus lived here. This was also the location of King Herod’s winter palace. He died here in 4 BC. Standing on the southern end of the site we saw the stone retaining walls that are still standing. It was the mud-brick wall on top of this stone wall that came tumblin’ down when the shofar was blown.
Dead Sea Hotel
Driving about an hour south to the southern end of the Dead Sea (in Ein Bokek), we checked into our hotel and enjoyed dinner. We are looking forward to floating in the Dead Sea tomorrow morning and spending all day in the desert!
DAY 7 – SATURDAY, MARCH 23: MASADA, EIN GEDI, QUMRAN, WILDERNESS OF JUDAH, JERUSALEM
This morning began with many in the group enjoying floating on the Dead Sea at sunrise! What an amazing and unique experience! During the course of the day, the sun was warm and bright, with highs around 80.
After a later check-out we drove north along the Dead Sea to Masada. On the way we read from Psalm 18:1-2 (“The Lord is my fortress…metzada…”). Upon arriving at this palace-fortress of King Herod built early during his reign, we took the cable car to the top. Our guides told the story of 967 Jews who found refuge up on top for about 3 years (70-73 AD). Among the ruins, we saw storehouses, bathhouse, palaces the casemate wall, and the synagogue. Following the tour on top, some took the cable car down while others hiked down the Snake Path.
Continuing north on our way to Engedi, we considered Ezekiel 47. This prophet mentions this salty body of water becoming fresh when the river runs from Jerusalem one day (Zechariah mentions something similar, Zech 14). Upon arriving at Engedi, we walked up into the canyon. We read from Song of Songs 1, 2 Chronicles 20, and 1 Samuel 24. This last passage places David and Saul here. Before leaving, many hiked back further to see the water falls. This was certainly an oasis in biblical days! We also saw a few ibex (and their newborn “kids”) and coneys (Psalm 104).
Located at the northern end of the Dead Sea is Qumran. While it is not a large site, what was found here in 1947, namely the Dead Sea Scrolls, makes this site the most significant one in all of Israel. To date 12 caves with fragments of scrolls have been found to date. During the lunch hour, about 25 in the group hiked to Cave 1 where the first scrolls were found (which included the famous Isaiah Scroll among others). At the site itself, we saw many miqve (ritual baths), cisterns, the scriptorium, and more of the caves (#4). We read from “Psalm 151” (found in 1956 in Cave 11. It was written by David), and Psalm 19. We rejoiced in this remarkable preservation of God’s Word!
Judean Desert/Wadi Qelt
On our way to Jerusalem, we made a brief stop overlooking the Wadi Qelt. It is here in the heart of the Judean Desert that we heard “Isaiah the prophet” share from Isaiah 40. Here in this desert, John the Baptist would echo the very words of Isaiah in preparation for Jesus’ coming! Shlomo also sang “Psalm 23.” This desert serves as the context for these passages.
We arrived at our hotel in Jerusalem. After checking in and dinner, many in the group walked to the Western Wall. It was incredible to see this most-holy place for Jews at night! We are looking forward to spending time in Jerusalem the next few days!
DAY 8 – SUNDAY, MARCH 24: MT. OF OLIVES, GARDEN OF GETHSEMANE, POOL OF BETHESDA, ISRAEL MUSEUM, YAD VASHEM
Today was our first full day in Jerusalem. The weather was overcast, with a few hours of showers in the morning, but sunny towards mid afternoon. The temps were in the high 50s.
Mt. of Olives
Starting at 7:35, we drove around the north side of the Old City and crossed the Kidron Valley to get to the top of the Mt. of Olives. Here we enjoyed an amazing view of the Temple Mount and Old City of Jerusalem. Walking down the pathway, we briefly stopped at Dominus Flavet, a small chapel with a closer view of the Eastern Gate (Ezekiel 44) and Temple Mount. We read from Luke 19 about Jesus humbly riding down the slopes of this hill as King. We also read from Zechariah 14 about Christ’s 2nd Coming when His feet will stand on this mountain. It will split into two and Jesus will once again be proclaimed as the King of kings! Further down the slope we also stopped briefly among olive trees in the general are where the Garden of Gethsemane was located. We read from Luke 22. It was here where Judas betrayed Jesus. We read about Jesus willingness and passion to accomplish God’s redemptive purpose for the world. He said, “Not my will but yours be done!”
Walking into the Old City through the Lion’s Gate (also called St. Stephen’s and Jericho gate), we saw the ancient Pools of Bethesda (John 6). Also on the same premises is St. Anne’s Church. We sang a few songs in this Crusader church. It has about an eight-second echo. We sounded like a heavenly choir!
After eating lunch in the Christian Quarter, we walked out of the Jaffa Gate and met our buses. We drove to the Israel Museum. We first saw an amazing 1:50 replica/model of Jerusalem of what it looked like in 70 AD. We made many biblical connections with the activity and ministry of Jesus here. We highlighted Jesus’ ministry in this city. Next, we walked through the Shrine of the Book where some of the Dead Sea Scrolls are displayed. Finally, we walked through the archaeological wing of the museum, seeing the highlights (e.g. Dan & Pilate Inscription, Moses’ Seat, figurines, ossuaries, among many other things. We even saw what looks like a glass pie plate that dates 1,900 years old!
Our last stop of the day was to Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust Museum. We heard both Shlomo and Ori’s personal story before walking through the Children’s Memorial. 1.5 million were killed in the Holocaust. On our own we walked through the museum itself. This is a place that grips your heart with the reality of hate and murder that took place during WWII to 6 million Jews! We returned to our hotel in Jerusalem for dinner and another optional walk (this time to Ben Yehuda Street/Jaffa Road).
DAY 9 – MONDAY, MARCH 25: BETHLEHEM, SHEPHERD’S FIELDS, THE “SHEPHELAH” – LOWLANDS OF JUDAH – ELAH VALLEY, BETH SHEMESH, BEIT GUVRIN, LACHISH, JERUSALEM
Today was a day to visit and explore sites outside of Jerusalem. The day first took us to south of Jerusalem (to Bethlehem) and then west of Jerusalem (to the Shephelah or Lowlands of Judah). The weather was overcast with a few showers…
Leaving again around 7:30, we drove about 5 miles south to the Bethlehem area. Our first stop took us to Beit Sahour just east of Bethlehem. The traditional shepherds’ fields are here. Descending into a cave, we talked about the role of shepherds and that “just at the right time God sent His Son” (Gal. 4:4). We celebrated the fulfillment of redemptive history in Jesus’ birth. We also read from Micah 5 and Luke 2. Singing Christmas carols in the chapel was also special! We then drove into Bethlehem and visited an olive wood shop and store. It was interesting to see how they carved the wood.
Driving west, we descended down into the Shephelah (lowlands) of Judah. Overlooking the narrow section of the Elah Valley, we read from I Samuel 17. It was here where David fought Goliath. With the Philistines occupying one hill, and the Israelites the other, the battlefield was right in front of us!
Driving north to the Sorek Valley, we stopped into a new mall for lunch. Many had pizza, while others had a burger from McDonalds! Near by is the ancient site of Beth Shemesh. On the top of the tel, we learned (from Judges 13-16) that Samson was from this area (specifically Zorah). We also read from 1 Samuel 6 about the return of the Ark of the Covenant to this city from the Philistines at Ekron. We returned back to the buses just before the skies opened up with lots of rain!
Driving south we visited Beit Guvrin. In between the rain drops we walked into one of the soft limestone Bell Caves. There are 100s of caves in this area. In this large carved-out cave Shlomo shared a song on his recorder. We also sang a few worship songs here too. Close by we also descended down to a columbarium cave where pigeons were raised. About 2,000 niches were carved into this cave.
It rained on the way to our final site, Lachish. Shortly after we arrived, thankfully it stopped and cleared. This Canaanite site was first destroyed by Joshua (Josh. 10). In the end of the 8th century BC, the Assyrians destroyed the city (Isaiah 36-27, 2 Kings 19-20, 2 Chr. 32). After the Judeans re-settled the city, the Babylonians came 120 years later. Lachish was one of the two last-standing cities remaining (Jer. 34:7). The Lachish Letter #4 (found in 1935) confirms this.
We returned to out hotel in Jerusalem for dinner and a free evening.
DAY 10 – TUESDAY, MARCH 26: GARDEN TOMB, CITY OF DAVID, HEZEKIAH’S TUNNEL, SOUTHERN WALL EXCAVATIONS, WESTERN WALL, A FEW FREE HOURS
Today was our last day here in Jerusalem. The weather was partly sunny with highs in the upper 50s. The day included a little mix of Old and New Testament sites and experiences, some worship, as well as some free time.
We began the day at 8 a.m. as we drove to the north side of the Old City to the Garden Tomb. This site (identified only in the last 19th century AD) serves as an alternative location for both the crucifixion and burial of Jesus. After seeing the suggested tomb of Jesus, we joined our hearts for worship and Communion. It was a special time together.
City of David
Driving to the south side of the Old City, we visited the City of David excavations. After a 3-D movie and gaining some general insights for the observation deck, we descended down through the excavations. We saw the area suggested to be the palace of David and walked through down a series of tunnels called Warren’s Shaft. Using this vertical “water shaft” was the original theory behind how David conquered the city of Jesus (2 Samuel 5). Yet further down the slope of the city we saw the massive water tower that guarded the Gihon Spring (I Kings 1 where Solomon was made king). Here we also started our walk through Hezekiah’s Tunnel (2 Kings 20, 2 Chronicles 32). Others walked through the dry (and earlier) Canaanite tunnel. Both groups converged at the Pool of Siloam where we read John 9 in dramatic fashion.
Southern Wall Excavations / Western Wall
Driving to the south-wall excavations of the Temple (some walked up through the Herodian drainage channel), we stood on a Herodian street (that Jesus would have used!) under Robinson’s Arch at the SW corner of the Temple. The massive stones of the temple that Herod built starting in 20 BC were huge! Later, we walked up the southern steps of the Temple. We recalled everyone who used these steps in the days of the New Testament (Luke 2, 18; John 2, Acts 2, etc…). The stones are massive here too. No wonder the disciples were so impressed, see Mark 13:1-2). Before leaving this area, some circled back to the Western Wall while others took off for some free time for the rest of the afternoon.
We returned to the hotel for our farewell dinner. Some in the group are scheduled to fly home late tonight while 61 of us cross into Jordan tomorrow.
DAY 11 – WEDNESDAY, MARCH 27: ARRIVE HOME or JORDAN EXTENSION: BORDER CROSSING, MT. NEBO, MACHAERUS, PETRA
Today the trip continued for 59 of us who crossed the border into Jordan. 24 in the group flew back home on various flights. One in the group (with a friend of his staying behind also) remained back in Israel to attend to some medical needs. Please join us in prayer for recovery of health for this gentleman.
Allenby Bridge Border Crossing
Leaving the hotel at 7:40 with luggage in hand, we drove east to the Jordan Valley where we crossed into the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. The passport procedures went smoothly. We were greeted by Sam and Wiel, our two Jordanian guides and our new drivers.
Our first stop by late morning was Mt. Nebo. We past a few flocks of sheep crossing the road on the way. At an elevation about 2,200 feet, this high mountain provided Moses’ with his last view of the Promised Land. We read from Deuteronomy 31 and 34 as well as Joshua 1. Moses died here, but not before handing the leadership baton to Joshua. The view across to the Dead Sea, Jericho, and the Plains of Moab / Jordan Valley was fairly descent. We stepped into the beautiful restored church and saw incredible mosaics, some from the 5th and 6th century AD.
After stopping briefly at a nearby mosaic school and store, we drove around Medeba to Machaerus. This was where John the Baptist was beheaded. We read from Matthew 14 before climbing up this palace-fortress built first by Herod the Great (in 30 BC). Before him Alexander Janneaus the Hasmonean first built a fortress here in 90 BC. It was during the reign of Herod Antipas (one of Herod’s three sons, 4 BC – 39 AD) when John met his fate. On the top we saw the area of the palace, a huge cistern, a few ritual baths, and mosaics.
Kings & Desert Highways to Petra
In the mid afternoon we began our long drive to Petra. The road was bumpy with heavy truck traffic taking goods to the Port of Aqaba. We stopped briefly at a rest stop before arriving in Wadi Musa and the area of Petra. After checking in we enjoyed dinner. We retired early for the evening in preparation for our early start tomorrow in Petra, one of the 7 Wonders of the World.
DAY 12 – THURSDAY, MARCH 28: PETRA, WADI RUM
Today was a day filled with the wonder and beauty of God’s creation! The temps were perfect, with highs in the 60s and full sun all day.
We arrive this morning at the entrance of Petra shortly after 7 a.m. We spent about 6.5 hours within this red-rose ancient city deemed one of the 7 Wonders of the World. Located in the heart of the Seir Mountains, Land of Edomites, Petra is a site of incredible sandstone color. We entered the site through the Siq, the main entrance to Petra, that brought us to the first monument “The Treasury” (“Al-Khazneh”). This well-preserved monumental tomb appeared in the movie “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.” It was the tomboy the Nabatean King named Aretas (see 2 Cor. 12. His daughter or granddaughter – depending on dating – was the former wife of Herod Antipas, Matthew 14).
A walk further down through the site. Besides passing by many of the Nabatean tombs, we walked by a 3,000-seat theater carved into the sandstone, one of the largest theaters in Jordan. From here, some walked to the Monastery Tomb at the fear west side of Petra, while others explored on their own (e.g. the Royal Tombs). Some even also hiked to the High Place far above the site. We all walked back to the visitor center.
After loading our buses, we drove about 2 hours south to Wadi Rum. Here we enjoyed an amazing jeep ride in the desert. It was really fun. We stopped at a few places to take in the beauty of this desert. Following watching the sunset, we jeeped right to our place for the night in the desert, Captain’s, a Bedouin Village. We enjoy dinner together (cooked underground!) and a brief campfire under the brilliant stars. We all retired to our individual tents for the night!
(Wadi Rum Pictures)
DAY 13 – FRIDAY, MARCH 29: SOUTHERN BORDER CROSSING INTO ISRAEL, RED SEA, TIMNAH, MACHTESH RAMON, TEL AVIV
Today we re-crossed into Israel. The weather would be once again sunny and mild on this last full day of the tour, with temps in the 70s.
Rabin Border Crossing
Leaving Wadi Rum at 7:30, we drove south towards Aqaba and the Rabin Border. This is one of three border crossings. Saying goodbye to our Jordanian guides, the crossing went well. Arriving on the Israeli side, we were greeted by Shlomo, Ori, David, and Messiach.
Coral Beach / Red Sea
Driving south through Elat (Israel’s port city), we enjoyed about an hour on the Red Sea at Coral Beach. Some enjoyed the swimming while others relaxed on the beach. This fork of the Red Sea extends 100 miles south to the tip of the Sinai Desert.
Timnah / Tabernacle Model
Driving north through the Aravah, we arrived at Timnah. This was an ancient copper mine of the Egyptians primarily in the 13th – 12th century BC. This area also has a number of unique geological formations. After seeing the mushroom rock, we were guided through a full-size model of the Tabernacle. About 50 chapters of the Torah are dedicated to this portable Tent of Meeting between God and His people. Hebrews 9 reminds us that Jesus served as our High Priest in His once-and-for-all sacrifice on the cross.
Following a brief stop at Yovata, a dairy kibbutz known for their famous ice cream, we drove through the Machtesh Ramon. This is Israel’s grand canyon. High on the canyon’s rim, we had a fantastic view of this unique crater. We saw a few ibex here as well.
The last leg of the longer drive today took us back to Tel Aviv. We passed through the Desert of Zin. The 12 spies came up through here (Num. 13). It was also here where Moses struck the rock (Num. 20). We also drove past Beersheba. Abraham made a treaty here (Gen. 21). Later, so did Jacob (Gen. 26). We also past Gath (1 Sam. 17, 2 Kings 12) and Ekron (1 Sam. 6). We arrived at our hotel on the Med Sea for late but incredible Shabbat dinner. A few left later after dinner for their flight home.
DAY 14 – SATURDAY/SUNDAY, MARCH 30-31: ARRIVE HOME
With the exception of a few staying a few days longer on their own, most in the group plan to fly home on various flights through the morning and evening. Because of a night flight later tonight, 15 in the group enjoyed a free day in our hotel along the Mediterranean Sea. Everyone went walking and exploring on their own.
Climbing the Redeemer Lutheran Church tower in the heart of the Christian Quarter offers a fantastic 360 degree panoramic view of the Old City. The video captures each direction.
To the south one can see the Jewish Quarter; to the west the Christian Quarter and the Jaffa Gate; to the north the Holy Sepulcher Church and the Muslim Quarter; to the east the Temple Mount.